Our last day in San Francisco welcome us with bright blue skies and brilliant sunshine. In the morning we had already hopped on one of the city’s moving landmarks and experienced a ride in the open-air cable cars that make this city such a favourite destination. Then we spent about three hours exploring the infamous Island of Alcatraz, famous for the maximum security pentitentiary that was located here from 1933 to 1963. What an eerie yet strangely beautiful place!
Alcatraz – a reminder this was a hellish place
We arrived back at Pier 33 shortly after 2 pm and decided to have a quick lunch in the sun at Pier 39. Among the hustle and bustle of this popular tourist destination we took up a sunny spot right in front of the historic Italian-built carousel to savour our selection of French fries and crepes.
The popular vintage carousel at Pier 39
Then we had to hurry because by this time it was past 3 pm and we still wanted to do a bicycle tour of San Francisco’s northern coastline and to explore Golden Gate Park. So we rushed over to Bay City Bike Rental where we used our Go San Francisco card to take out two bikes to start our second bicycle tour of San Francisco. The Go San Francisco Card is a multi-day, multi-attraction pass that lets you experience more than 45 attractions, activities and tours at greatly reduced prices.
A tribute to Pier 39’s sea lions
Steve, our favourite sales person with the great relaxed West Coast attitude, outfitted us with comfortable cruiser bikes and even got us a map and a free bottle of water to start our adventure. Now we were definitely ready to head out and explore more of San Francisco’s unique locations.
Even the seagulls ponder San Francisco’s beauty
In the sunshine we cruised past Fort Mason Center and the Marina District. We then stopped off at the Palace of Fine Arts, one of San Francisco’s most popular destinations and the only remaining site of the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. Unfortunately the Rotunda was under renovation and covered up by scaffolding, but the beautifully carved Corinthian columns and the scenic pond still provided plenty of opportunities for passionate photographers.
Classic details of the Palace of Fine Arts
On we continued past Crissy Field and up a steep hill to the Fort Point Lookout, location of the southern terminus of the Golden Gate Bridge. Then we continued uphill on Lincoln Boulevard, high above Baker Beach and China Beach to Land’s End where a wooden lookout platform offered a phenomenal view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
A great view from Land’s End
After taking a rest in beautiful Lincoln Park (which features a reasonably priced municipal golf course with amazing Pacific Ocean views) we continued past the Palace of the Legion of Honor, a European art museum financed by a sugar heiress. Then we continued southwards into Golden Gate Park.on steep 47th Avenue.
What a vista from the Lincoln Park Golf Course!
Golden Gate Park consists of more than 1000 acres of parkland that is visited by 13 million visitors per year. The park has a range of diverse features including the popular Japanese Tea Garden, the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum, and the Conservatory of Flowers. Stow Lake and Spreckels Lake are the main bodies of water; and the De Young Museum, rebuilt and reopened in 2005, is a celebrated destination for fine arts lovers. Golden Gate is also home to the California Academy of Sciences, one of the largest natural history museums in the world. The AIDS Memorial Grove was begun in 1988 and continues to be the only national AIDS memorial in the United States.
Residences near Golden Gate Park